Route77energy Honda returned to the world championship tour this past weekend by pitching camp at Arco di Trento, overlooking picturesqueLakeCavèdinein the Tyrolean Alps. After easing back into racing the weekend previous, team rider Jason Dougan returned to the line-up as well.
Dougan and team-mate Tanel Leok went out for pre-qualifying practice and ended the session in nineteenth and fifth respectively. Dougan then followed that up with an improved result of sixteenth in his qualifying race on Saturday, while Leok ended down slightly in ninth.
On Sunday, the first race was a complete disaster for both riders. Much to everyone’s horror, Dougan’s kick-starter snapped off before the sighting lap and the team was unable to start the bike, leaving him stranded in the waiting zone. Although Leok got off the starting blocks inside the top five and soon found himself in the thick of it, he was forced to make a pit stop. Although the belief that his rear wheel was collapsing was incorrect and the problem was soon identified and fixed, enough time was lost to put Leok in the back of the pack for the final portion of the race.
For Dougan, the second race made up for the first. Mid-pack around the first corner, he prepared for a long hard fight for positions. Several laps into the race, he lost traction and went down, quickly recovering and salvaging his points position. By mid-race, he was back to where he started, settling into a steady rhythm and ending the race in sixteenth.
For Leok, the second race did not go quite to plan either. A less-than-stellar start left Leok in mid-pack too. Early gains were undone by some small mistakes with Leok ending a modest two places up on his first lap position.
Commented team principal Mark Chamberlain: “The first race felt like some sort of nightmare, if I’m honest, with first Jason’s problem and then Tanel. I really feel for them both as well as the team, as there is no lack of effort or commitment, that’s for sure. Mentally it was hard to recover and I think that showed. Jason had a decent enough ride in race two and Tanel probably tried too hard, which led to mistakes. It’s time for cool heads at the moment and we will take a step back this week, then make some small changes to make sure the problems aren’t repeated.”
Tanel Leok (#40): I’m very disappointed; it’s surely a weekend to forget. First race I had a good start and was feeling good but then had technical issue with my rear wheel so had to make a pit stop. That took so much time that I lost many valuable points. Second start wasn’t as good and I was making too many mistakes, so I hope next weekend inBulgariais better.
Jason Dougan (#85): Not a great weekend, I felt decent in morning warm-up after struggling a bit on Saturday. Then the kick-start snapped before the sighting lap to add to the great luck I have, and I couldn’t get the bike bump-started, so DNS! Unfortunately, not a lot we could do. Second race had a crash about four laps into the race and finished in sixteenth. Considering my circumstances with injury at the moment, I’m happy enough with some points and we now have something to build off of. Hopefully I can make up for not a great weekend inItalywith some decent races inBulgaria.
The team next travels to the fifth round of the FIM World Motocross Championship in Sevlievo this weekend.